Re: Crystal Syrian
Unfortunately I am not to good with languages so I don't know Arabic or Farsi but I wish I did as I have a lot of friends in Syria, Iran and Iraq and it would make business a bit easier I guess.
I used to know a few African tongues but since I haven't used them in about 20 years I have basically forgotten what Sindebele, Ndebele, Shona ( specifically Chikaranga & Zezuru) I once used. I am working on getting Lithuanian up to par but it's tough at my age.
Latakia is not near the boarder. It's in the North West and it's the biggest port in Syria and right now has a booming economy thanks in part to the Russians. The other places I spent time at this time around are Tartus (the best city in the country), Jablah, Hims & Baniyas.
Latakia and Tartus are famous for the tourist stuff and history but also narghile stuff. The cafes are great with a very laid back atmosphere, great coffee and food and, of course, the best moassel and jurak on the planet (well, the Iranian stuff is as good but different) so I could easily spend months there and not get to see everything.
People are pretty amazed when they see Occidentals like me go into the local tobacco shops although it could be that my appearance is what freaks them out. Lots of the local brands are sold out of just a couple of shops and cafes as they are made by families that have a strong local following. When you get out side of the commercial/tourist parts of the cities the smokers are very old fashioned and you best obey customs if you want to be made welcome. I got yelled at for setting a rig on a table once so I have to be on my best behavior. These guys are serious about smoking and they are very much into the ritual stuff so it takes a bit of getting used to for someone like me. Still, Iíve met some awesome people at such places and had some very interesting conversations and Iíve gotten to like traditional Arabic music although I canít say I understand it.